The 2015 STEM Skills Challenge has lift off.
Budding scientists and engineers of the future showed off the work of their school STEM clubs at the first round of the challenge, set by Cuadrilla Resources and The Gazette, and hosted by Blackpool and The Fylde College, to inspire children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Pupils told of the experiments they’d conducted, waiting lists for clubs and investments in state-of-the-art technology that made their clubs “the best bit of school”.
Judged by bosses from Cuadrilla Resources, The Gazette, the college and organisation STEMFirst, the competition offers a first place prize of £2,000 to be invested in the winning club.
Judges said they were “blown away” by the originality and technical prowess of the STEM experiments showcased by pupils, including wind powered rockets, homemade putty, and a solar distillation device.
Pupils from seven secondary schools, AKS, Baines, Garstang, Millfield, Montgomery, St Mary’s and Kirkham Grammar, competed at Blackpool and The Fylde College’s university campus, on February 3.
Today they take part in the first quest.
Teachers from Millfield Science and Performing Arts College, who won the first STEM Skills Challenge, admitted their status meant pupils had put in even more effort ahead of the competition, having had an £10,000 investment in it after winning in 2013.
Pupil Connor Rimmell, 13, said: “I love learning stuff in STEM club, it’s my favourite thing in school.”
Students showed they could be resourceful with their STEM clubs, as some schools benefitted from well-established clubs of 11 years old while others were new to schools.
At Arnold King Edward School, Lytham, a keen sixth form student, 17-year-old Harry Bickerstaffe, has set up a STEM club to pass on his knowledge to Year Nine pupils.
He said: “The younger ones decide what to learn about, they do know a lot already though which is lovely to see.”
The AKS boys showed off their wind powered rocket – one of many displays that judges said ‘blew them away’.
Engineer Andrew Price, financial director for Cuadrilla Resources, said: “The children’s enthusiasm and interest in science really impressed me, and the originality of ideas and experiments they’ve got.
“The fact they’re driving these STEM clubs and developing the experiments is really encouraging.”